— Dane Creek

Day 2: Buenos Aires

(This is part of a series of re-posts from my trip to Antarctica in 2009)

Arriving in Buenos Aires was cool. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this. The city is sprawled out, but not like LA where all you see are buildings to the horizon. There are so many tress in the city it’s amazing! It looks more like Atlanta or something. From the air it looks stunningly beautiful. From the ground… eh, the buildings are covered in graffiti but again, the trees are EVERYWHERE. I’m impressed.

The international airport is dinky, around the size of the Winnipeg airport if I had to guess. And it looks rundown. Not at all what I expected either. Immigration was a breeze, the lady said hi, stamped my passport, and waved me through. Bags showed up fine, and then through a customs xray machine. I stuck my film through it for the first (and likely only) time on the trip rather than try and explain that I wanted a hand scan. I’ll save that debate with a security guy for the flight out of BA tomorrow.

There was a guy waiting for me with a sign, and he called a car for me, and the car came. The driver was nice, spoke a bit of English, and whisked me to my hotel. On the way he whistled at “beautiful ladies” and cranked up a B.B. King CD.

The hotel is fantastic. Great front desk staff, beautiful lobby, beautiful breakfast/pool area. Since my room wasn’t ready yet I sat outside in their courtyard for a couple of hours nibbling on breakfast and watching kids play in the pool and napping. The room is great too: just the right size, beautifully decorated, and very hip. Oddly I’m in an accessible room so the turlet is way high up of the ground and the shower has no curb. They clearly don’t have a water shortage here either. The water coming out of the shower head is like a monsoon! The floors throughout the whole room are concrete and I’m sold. Our next house is all concrete floors with radiant floor heating.

After a great two hour nap in the room I met up with Dirk (from Germany) and Steve (from the UK) at the Recoleta Cemetary. I took my black and white camera, some film, and my wide angle lens. It’s a black and white photographer’s dream. Everything is stone in black, white, and all shades of grey in between. Lots of really good stained glass around too. Jason, you’d go crazy shooting here with your MF body. Roberta, you’d have a blast with the Lensbaby. I shot a roll of N-1, and wanted to shoot more at +1 but I felt like I was holding the others up. I’m going to go back tomorrow with the digital body, more film, and the Lensbaby to shoot on my own before I have to go to the airport. Yes, I did stumble upon Evita’s tomb. No, it wasn’t that impressive.

To get to/from the cemetery I took a taxi. The taxi drivers here are hilarious. They honk when traffic slows down even just a teeny bit. The stop signs are optional. My second cabbie yelled at me in Spanish for slamming the door to his car. Funny guy! But man, are the cabs cheap. $15 (that’s an Argentinean Peso sign there, not a US Dollar sign, be careful!) each way, which works out to about $5 (that’s a US Dollar sign there, not an Argentinean Peso sign there, be careful!).

Dinner was with 18 other people from the trip at Spettus. Lots of meat brought out on big sticks that they carve at tableside for you. Oddly, the sweetbreads were the best of the bunch. I’d never had them before, but it’s hard to go wrong with something deep fried and tasty. I had caramel flan with dulche de leche for dessert. Oh. Yeah. Yuuuuuumy! By the way, if you think splitting a cheque is rough when you go out with four people, try splitting one for 19 and people are paying using two different currencies ($ or $). Somehow I got appointed banker. And somehow we were only 3% over the final total!

Oh, on the way to the restaurant the cabbie was pointing out sights for me. The presidential palace was a highlight (“the president lives there. We don’t like him.”). I drove by the Microsoft building too, which I thought was hilarious. I took a picture, which got me a lecture from the cabbie (in Spanish) about not having a wrist strap on my camera.

After dinner six of us walked down the road for a beer. It turns out that of the six of us four had ties to the software industry. One couple now lives in northern California and raises grass-fed cattle and lamb and sells it locally. They have about 12 heads of cow. Oh, and 24 chickens. So I talked chickens for awhile.

Now I’m back in the room way past my bedtime, but apparently just when people start to party in BA. The menu at the bar was for happy hour even though it was 11:30 at night!

Anyway, time to go to bed. Tomorrow I’m going back to the graveyard to shoot more pictures then checking out and heading to the airport for the flight to Ushuaia. There was some crazy rumour that the airport there is closed and we’ll have to be bussed in from somewhere two hours away. I hope that’s not the case. Blech.